The final game preseason game for the Seahawks this year is as important to them as a preseason game can be to an NFL franchise. The Seahawks won the division last year, made several major moves in free agency to add talent, and have every expectation of winning the NFC West again this year. However, the Seahawk starting offense has looked, quite frankly, like garbage. It has scored just one touchdown in three games, and has come under heavy criticism for its anemic appearance, and the team has looked quite poor at times.
In his post-game interview last week, Pete Carroll stated that he thought the biggest issue that needed to be addressed this week at practice was protecting Tarvaris Jackson. When Jackson finally had a drive in which he was not repeatedly driven onto his back last week, the Seahawks scored a touchdown. I believe that this week, Carroll will stop trying to rely on his incredibly young offensive line as much. I’d expect to see tight end Zach Miller staying in for pass protection more, and I also expect Seahawk running backs and full backs to stay in the backfield to pick up oncoming pressure more often.
This week’s opponent for the Hawks is the Oakland Raiders, a team who has a new coach, lost several key players (including Zach Miller and Robert Gallery), is 0-3 this preseason, have only scored 41 points and have given up 81 points. A loss at home to the reeling Raiders would not be a good sign for the Seahawks’ level of ambition this year.
The Raiders still boast one of the league’s best rushing attacks, lead by Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Last season, the Raiders ran all over the Seahawks and won 33-3 in Oakland. Their passing game is still a work in progress though, and they do not have very consistent targets at receiver or tight end. The Seahawks defense has struggled some against the pass, but has been built to be quite stout against the run. This week gives them a chance to prove that Pete Carroll’s completely rebuilt roster is improved in run-defense from the squad Carroll inherited.
This week, the Seahawks also moved veteran cornerback Kelly Jennings in a trade to the Cincinnati Bengals for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. McDonald, a 7th round pick of the Bengals in 2009, was projected to be fighting for a roster spot in Cincinnati. This says a lot about what the Seahawks thought of Kelly Jennings. The Seahawks currently have 6-4 Brandon Browner, and 6-1 Josh Pinkard and Byron Maxwell, for reserve cornerbacks, (Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond are the projected starters). Jennings, a 5-11 cornerback, has good speed, but has struggled against large receivers. With the size the Seahawks have added to their secondary, it was clear the team did not feel Jennings fit into their plans.
According to yahoo.com, there are just 16 players on the current Seahawk roster that were on the team when Pete Carroll took over before last season (NFL teams are allowed to carry 53 players on their roster). This is a tremendous amount of turnover, and largely explains why the Seahawks have yet to look in sync (N Sync?) for an entire game this preseason. This is another reason why getting valuable playing/practicing time in tonight’s game is so crucial for the Seahawks. There will be no more tune-ups after this.
The big thing to look for this week will be the success of the Seahawk offense once again. I expect that the Seahawks will use Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett at full speed in an attempt to help the offense as a whole, as well as to take pressure off the shoulders of Tarvaris Jackson. Lynch did not play last week because a sore ankle, and the team has been cautious about using him or Forsett much this preseason. This should be a “final draft” of what the Seahawks first team offense will look like this year. It has been terrible thus far, but has very good potential on paper.
Essentially what we need to know is this: can the Seahawk coaching staff get a team with a pro-bowl caliber receiver, tight end, and maybe running back to move the ball effectively this season? We’ll have a better idea after tonight’s game, which starts at 10:30 EST. If so, they have a great chance of playing in January. If not, they’re headed to toward the bottom of the worst division in football. This game won’t determine how the season will go, but it will give us a better idea of what we’re getting ourselves into when we turn the games on every Sunday.
About the Author
Written by Erik Olsoy
Erik was born in Columbus, Ohio during the only Ohio State football victory over Michigan in the 1980s, but moved to Washington state and grew up there. His loyalty to Ohio State remains strong, but his strongest allegiances developed toward Seattle sports. Though he recently graduated from Boston College, he has not yet been converted to the ways of New England Sportsdom, and only roots for the Red Sox against the Yankees because the Yankees are the root of all evil.